Tanning Beds Double Risk of Melanoma

wrinkled aged hands

Thinking of getting a head start on a summer tan before breaking out the sleeveless shirts, shorts or skirts?  If heading to an indoor tanning bed is part of your plan to get a little color on those pale winter legs, think again.

Research from the University of North Carolina has not only associated tanning bed use with a significant health hazard; it has found indoor tanning doubles the risk of melanoma.  Studies have also found that nearly 263,000 skin cancers in the United States in 2015 were attributed to the use of indoor tanning beds and treatment of these cancers cost more than $340 million.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to UV rays while tanning indoors can cause skin cancer and may also cause cataracts and cancers of the eye.  Tanning beds also cause premature skin aging such as wrinkles, age spots and a change in the texture of the skin.

While some may believe getting a base tan will prevent burning later, indoor tanning can give you a high level of UV radiation in a very short time, causing a burn.  Tanning is the body’s response to damage from UV rays and indoor tanning is no safer than tanning outdoors.   And while getting enough Vitamin D is important to promote calcium absorption, experts agree that it is a good idea to limit UV exposure and use sunscreen whenever exposed to the sun.  A healthy diet can usually supply the Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin D; 600IU a day for men and women between the ages of 51 and 70.

A 2014 study, published in the JAMA Dermatology, found that indoor tanning causes more skin cancers than the number of lung cancer cases caused by smoking.  Tanning while using certain medications or cosmetics can make you more sensitive to UV rays and indoor tanning can increase the risk for skin cancer by up to 75 per cent when started before the age of 35.  Since 2008, tanning devices that emit UV radiation are categorized as “carcinogenic to humans” according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a division of the World Health Organization.

To learn more about the dangers of indoor tanning, visit the United States Food and Drug Administration website by following this link.